By Rori Bennett – Junior Reporter
Doctors, nurses, respirologists, x-ray technicians, cleaners, maintenance workers and many other essential front line workers at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, along with officers, and other essential police services staff from the Chatham-Kent Police Service have been the recipients of thoughts, well wishes, letters, sidewalk drawings, Facebook and Instagram posts sent from members of the community.
The community of Chatham-Kent has rallied behind the front line staff and have looked for creative ways to provide them with support and encouragement as they continue to fight the invisible enemy known as COVID-19.
Members of these teams work tirelessly during this exceptional time that is being experienced around the world.
Const. Renee Cowell, public information officer for the Chatham-Kent Police Service, told the Sydenham Current they have not technically received letters, but they have received outdoor crafts and drawings from members of the public.
“During these challenging times, our first responders appreciate the kind words and messages that are being left by members of the community,” Cowell said.
“It’s a good reminder that we are all in this together.”
Cowell added if anyone would like to use sidewalk chalk to create a design as a ‘thank-you’, they may do so across their community.
While most of the community is being told to stay home and follow social distancing guidelines, essential workers are front and center, taking care of the most vulnerable.
Aaron Ryan, vice president of performance and chief financial officer at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, told the Sydenham Current the letters and drawings that CKHA has received, cetre around two main themes.
The first is showing gratitude to the staff of CKHA who are coming in on a daily basis and caring for the patients at the hospital.
The second common theme focuses on courage and heroism.
Ryan said it is a great encouragement when someone is coming in to work to serve the community and they see tangible examples that their community appreciates the efforts being made.
“Chatham-Kent is known as a giving and caring community… during times of crisis the true character of a community is revealed,” Ryan said.
“The outpouring of support validates and confirms what we have known all along that our community will rally together to meet any challenge. The recognition and support is truly humbling and appreciated while reminding us of who it is that we serve.”
At the Wallaceburg and Chatham hospitals, all staff enter and exit through one set of doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Ryan said.
All social media posts, letters and photos have been printed and taped up on the wall for staff to read when beginning and ending their shift.
These posts can also be found on the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s various social media pages.
Ryan said some individuals have posted signs on the wall or decorated rocks that have been placed outside the hospital for staff to see as they enter.
Chatham-Kent resident Mark Reinhart has also done some of his duct tape art at both sites as well, which is loved and appreciated by staff members, Ryan added.
Over 20 pictures have been posted at the staff entrance of the Chatham and Wallaceburg hospitals.
Mixed in with the photos, there are approximately 15 to 20 decorative stones with inspirational messages.
Five outdoor signs have also been made and community members have written multiple posts on social media throughout the pandemic.
“Youth have done so much by sending messages of gratitude and hope,” Ryan said.
“With the physical distancing it is hard to receive well wishes in person so we are very appreciative they’ve taken the time to do this. We have had sidewalk chalk art done at both Chatham and Wallaceburg by young people and the staff have loved the welcoming messages.”
Ryan added: “We would ask the younger people to consider joining the #TogetherAtHome challenge by Municipal Councillor Aaron Hall. There is likely a lot of music out there they listen to that can be inspiring and uplifting at this time.”
Ryan said if someone wants to send a letter or a message to the essential workers at CKHA, they can do so through their website, here, or through there social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Emails can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If someone wishes to send a letter or message to the Chatham-Kent Police Service, they may address it to 24 Third Street in Chatham, Ontario, N7M 5K5.
Positive comments may also be left on their social media accounts.
Here are some photos by Rori Bennett:
Here are some more photos taken by Dana Haggith: